And Then I Read: THE SPIRIT 27-30

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All images © Will Eisner Studios, Inc.

I believe this title has been canceled with issue 32, which is a shame, but on the other hand the book has never rallied to the level of quality it achieved under Darwyn Cooke in the first dozen issues. Following a master like Will Eisner is tough, and the attempt to bring his characters into the present era was only occasionally successful.

Issues 27 & 28 by writers Michael Uslan and F. I. DeSanto are pretty good reads, with 28 the one I liked better. It takes The Spirit to Paris for the usual round of crime, violence and passion, and without the supporting cast, the hero gets more page time, usually a good thing. The art is not really to my liking for the most part, it’s pretty far from the Eisner model, and often has the kind of distortion in the figures and faces that I find unattractive. The covers by Brian Bolland are sweet, though.

Issue 29 by writer Dean Motter and artist Paul Rivoche seemed like it should be a winner. Motter’s story about a tattoo artist and a drug runner has the right kind of grit, and at times reminded me of some of Eisner’s grimmer stories. The art by Rivoche didn’t quite work for me, though. Paul Rivoche is a fine artist, but his concentration for many years has been on background art for animation, and I doubt he’s done much figure work lately. The figures in this story seemed stiff and at times even crudely drawn, and I found that distracting.

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The best of this group is issue 30, written and illustrated by Michael Avon Oeming. Maybe it takes a writer/artist to really get into Eisner’s creations, I don’t know, but like Cooke, Oeming seems to “get it.” His story is inventive, and full of action, suspense and humor. His drawing is cartoony in places, but in ways that work for this character as Cooke’s did. In fact, if Oeming had succeeded Cooke, this book might be doing a lot better than it is. Issue 30 is great stuff, and highly recommended. Nice cover by Kevin Nowlan, too. The others are mildly recommended.

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